Fast Facts: Global Reach of the Wesleyan Message

Fast Facts: Global Reach of the Wesleyan Message

Susanna Wesley's influence in her children’s lives laid the foundation for the Wesleyan movement to begin; a movement which has now reached 190 countries all over the world.

John Wesley’s movement began in the British Isles. Its earliest expansion was primarily in areas influenced by the British, such as the United States and several colonies. By 1800, there were Methodist societies in France as well as six other countries.

In the next half-century, Methodist societies spread into areas influenced by British traders, such as South Africa and Sri Lanka. Several South American countries witnessed the start of Methodism as well. It also moved into more European areas, for a total of twenty-five countries by 1850.

By the latter 1800s, additional Wesleyan-based denominations had formed. Wesleyan Methodists (now the Wesleyan Church), Free Methodists, and the Salvation Army were pioneering groups in some world areas. And of course the various branches of the Methodist church itself continued to expand, so that by 1900 Wesleyan groups were present in seventy-six countries.

In the twentieth century, the Church of the Nazarene was also entering new areas with the Wesleyan message. Cape Verde was the first of dozens of countries where the earliest recorded Wesleyan witness was Nazarene. By 1950, the Wesleyan message was proclaimed in 121 countries.

Today, Wesleyan-based denominations report work in 190 countries.

Because of political realities, there may be work in additional countries that is unreported. Some of the historical sources specifically say that work in some areas is now closed. However, those countries are still shown with their original entry dates.

Experience has shown that God’s message continues to spread even when official sanction is withdrawn. And the good news of God’s transforming grace is sure to be more widely available than even this map shows. 

Counts of countries are based on today’s boundaries. The numbers include some areas that are not independent but that are often treated as separate from their sponsoring country, such as Puerto Rico or Martinique. Beginning dates came from four denominational sources reported directly to Research Services and from online historical records, especially those of the World Methodist Council.

Dale Jones is Research Director, Church of the Nazarene Global Ministry Center

Holiness Today, Sept/Oct 2018